About The Chef

AboutPhotoFWAs of November 2009, I have been in the restaurant industry for 30 years. This site is dedicated to my love of food, travel, and adventure.  That is it! The adventure of food, and it is a @*!%&$# adventure, like breaking into a high rise at three in the morning just to jump off of it…thrilling and unpredictable.  You start with one thing, maybe a perfect demi, or an elegant piece of fish, some fresh herbs and who knows where you will end up. I often wonder how I ended up where I am now.  It is a fluke. It was definitely not a well planned and cohesive journey from A to B.

My first job in a restaurant was at the Mad Greek in Waikiki in 1976.  My buddy Alex’s uncle owned the place. We would arrive early on Saturday mornings, shampoo the carpet, and clean the restaurant. What a great job that was!  We were paid $22.50 each, there was no boss, reasonable time constraints, and did I mention that they gave us the keys?  They gave two 15 year old kids the keys to the entire restaurant. The evidence of a busy Friday night in a Greek restaurant was everywhere.  Broken plates on the dance floor, various bits of clothing and personal belongings under tables, and the intoxicating aromas of a restaurant from stale beer to silky pungent olive oil.  I was in love!  We would finish the carpet and go straight to the bar. Although the drinking age was only Eighteen back then, we were still to young to get into a bar, yet here we were sitting like adults and serving ourselves.  I didn’t even know it at the time, but I was hooked.

A few years later, I had barely received a high school diploma (that is another story for another time) and been accepted to a small college in Colorado.  It only took 8 weeks to realize that I was wasting my time and my parents money. In November of 1979, I dropped out and hitchhiked to Aspen.  I love Hawaii but I was really glad to be off the rock.  Just the fact that I could stick out my thumb and go as far as I wanted had my mind reeling with possibilities.

I settled for Aspen, though.  Partly because I wanted to ski and partly because that is how much money I had.  Looking back, I realize how foolish I was hitching into the Rockies in November with no warm clothing, no real plan, and no money.  I have tried to hold onto that willingness to plunge ahead with reckless disregard for how I may look or personal safety as I have grown older.  I had no idea how much colder it was going to be when I arrived at 8500′ in the heart of the Rocky mountains during the first week of November.  My aloha shirt and slippers were obviously designed for warmer climates. I found a room at the first place that I looked – the Independence Lodge.  It was smack downtown on the corner of Cooper and Galena and one block from the mountain.  It also happened to be right where I was dropped off.  It was a Victorian holdover from the silver rush days with a big central staircase and a large mezzanine.  I could just imagine the boom town hookers beckoning to the johns and displaying their wares.  Everything was working out. The manager told me it was $4o a month to share a room with an assortment of alcoholics, drug addicts and drifters, who were also coming to roost for the winter and would most likely take flight again in the spring. Perfect! Unfortunately I only had $20.  He was a crusty old Nam Vet who told me “son you aren’t dressed for a night outside. If  you find a job by the end of the day, I’ll front you the first months rent”.

I left my small bag of cotton shorts and t-shirts and walked into town.  The first place I hit was the El Toro Mexican Restaurant on Hymen St.  They said that they had just hired a cook 15 minutes before, but if I had experience they could give me a job as a dishwasher.  I told them about my extensive experience cleaning restaurants and I was given the job. I started that night and fell in love all over again. It wasn’t just warm, it was hot and steamy like home. I was part of a team. I was all alone in a new town, but I had friends.  We did shots and they never even asked how old I was. They just called me kid and punk and other terms of endearment. I learned two things that night:  1) if you are working in a kitchen and you’re hungry, you’re an idiot.  I learned that when the head cook saw me eating off the dirty plates and told me “heh if you’re working in a kitchen and you’re hungry you’re a @%*$!+& idiot!  Make yourself some food!”  2) If you take a head of Ice burg lettuce and slam the stem on the prep table it comes right off, no knife necessary.  I had arrived at the beginning.  I’ve never forgotten either one of those things.  Although I don’t work with Ice burg lettuce much anymore, it is a rare day that goes by at the restaurant where I don’t knock out a few loads of dishes.  It keeps me right-sized.

Bio

Nationality US Irish

Born 1960 Island County WA

Raised Honolulu Hawaii

School Punahou Class of 1979

First Restaurant Job 1976 Mad Greek Waikiki

Position Weekend Cleaning Crew

First Kitchen Job 1979 Aspen Colorado El Toro Mexican Restaurant

Position Dish Washer

Currently Residing San Diego and New York

Current Job Restaurant Owner Chef

Marital Status Married

Years Gay 49 (and counting)

Children None

Pets Doodle

Friends Many

Likes BASE Jumping, Sky Diving, Paragliding, Mountaineering, Skiing, Surfing, Traveling, Opening Restaurants, Good Restaurant Crews, Cooking and Food

Dislikes Doing Nothing, Paperwork, Staying Home, Cold Water, Dirty Beaches, Mean People, Rude customers, Haters, Yelp, People With a disproportionate Sense of Self Worth and entitlement, Bad Restaurant Crews, Uninspired Food.

Favorite Memory Sitting with my Grandma in her kitchen early in the morning before anyone else got up drinking strong Irish tea with cream and sugar watching her bake bread.

Goals 1000 BASE Jumps Pastry Chef (the only position in a restaurant I haven’t done)

Job Titles Paper boy, Cleaning Crew, Life Guard, Dish Washer, Graphic Artist,  Carpenter, Salad Bitch, Line Cook, Sous Chef, Head Chef, Catering Director, Restaurant Owner.

Jobs The Mad Greek, El Toro, The Paragon, Ruthies, Milans, Gordons, The Little Nell Hotel, SYZYGY, Mezzaluna, Hanalei, Jacks Sushi, Sushi on 2nd, Longboard Sushi, Ono Sushi.  Many more not worth mentioning or I’ve forgotten the names.

Restaurants Opened 5

Restaurants Still Open 4

Education I was asked not to attend my high school graduation although I did receive a diploma.

I went to college for 6 weeks then hitch hiked to Aspen.  I returned to college when I was 22 and got enough credits to reach my junior year before I left town due to a misunderstanding with some drug dealers.